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Aspiring Afghan musician wants US to ‘encore’ after the heroic trials in the war-torn country

For an up-and-coming trumpeter from Afghanistan, the music has set him free.

Ahmad Baset Azizi, 18, has spent the last year of study at the prestigious Interlochen Center for the Arts in Michigan — a long road of learning how to play the trumpet in his own country, where the study of music was once banned.

“It was difficult for me to walk through the streets with my trumpet,” Azizi, who goes by his middle name, Baset, said in an interview with Fox News. “When the Taliban was in power, music was prohibited, so a lot of people thought that it was still not accepted and she would give me a hard time.”

It was in 2011, when Baset originally started learning his instrument, after he was encouraged by his father to do.

“I was able to put in practice all the time. I played whenever I wanted. This is the normal life here for a musician. Not like in Afghanistan.”

– Ahmad Baset Azizi

“At the moment, I really didn’t know what it was,” he said. “I was not happy with it at first. It was too big for me and hard to play. But as soon as I decided that I liked it, I decided to be the best trumpet player I could be.”

While the Afghan government has allowed music to re-learn how to play was no easy feat for the young musician.

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When the only trumpet teacher left Azizi the school of the young musician turned to the internet, where he saw, trumpet videos on an endless loop in an attempt to teach himself.

(Courtesy of GoFundMe)

“I could never practice at home, in case someone would hear my trumpet,” he said. “I can only practice at school and it was not open all the time.”

Baset said that when he was younger, his original school, which is next to the Afghanistan Ministry of foreign Affairs, was often closed after bombings and attacks in the area.

“There were a lot of bombs,” he added. “You would leave the school and see bodies on the street.”

He followed the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), but because the previous Taliban ban on music of the relatively new school was often a target of the insurgents. Baset missed injured in a similar bombing.

“We had two chamber music concerts for consecutive nights. I played the first night but the second night was the Afghan traditional instruments, so I decided that I didn’t want to go,” he said. “There was a bombardment that night, inside the hall. I have even heard that the sound of the explosions. It was so tiring. I still have it in my mind.”

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One of the videos he discovered, was of David Bilger, Principal Trumpet of The Philadelphia Orchestra. Baset was so fascinated by the music he heard, led him to track down the musician on Facebook and send a friend request.

(Courtesy of GoFundMe)

Baset remained determined to go to school and master on his instrument. Fast forward a few years and the trumpet teacher at ANIM – one of the only players in Afghanistan – the left school. That meant that Baset was without a competent instructor.

That is when he turned to the internet, where he saw, trumpet videos on an endless loop to teach himself. One of the videos he discovered, was of David Bilger, the principal trumpeter of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Baset was so fascinated by the music he heard, led him to detect Bilger on Facebook and send a friend request.

“He was hilarious,” Bilger said on Fox News, recalling the first time he spoke with Baset on Facebook Messenger. “He introduced himself and said that he was the second best trumpet player in Afghanistan, because there were only two. I said to myself: ‘OKAY, I will bite.'”

Bilger says that young Baset was looking for lessons.

“He was without a teacher and basically looking for help,” Bilger said. “We started with Skype lessons per week.”

It was a number of months in their lessons as Baset told Bilger his dream — to spend his last year of high school in Interlochen, a prestigious music school in Michigan. The orchestra player has helped Baset in helping him develop a repertoire for his audition.

Bilger also helped with the setting up of a GoFundMe campaign where enough money was raised to cover the cost of attending the school after he was admitted to the program.

“I really liked it,” Baset said on Fox News. “I was able to put in practice all the time. I played whenever I wanted. This is the normal life here for a musician. Not like in Afghanistan.”

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Baset says that he would want to be a professional orchestra musician after he completes his training and that one day soon, he would love the opportunity to, in addition Bilger in a concert with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

(Courtesy of GoFundMe)

It was during the past year that he was able to meet Bilger in person, and they are even able to continue the lessons of one-on-one.

“Not only did he teach me how to play the trumpet, but he is also teaching me to be a fine person,” Baset said Bilger.

Last Saturday, the young musician graduated with honors and recently was admitted to the University of Kansas School of Music.

He plans to attend in the fall, and while he has received a scholarship for his family can’t afford to are other costs to stay here.

Under the encouragement of Bilger, and others, who supported him here in the USA, Baset has a new GoFundMe campaign. He had $12,000 of its $ 65,000 goal given to him in the past three months.

Baset says that he would want to be a professional orchestra musician after he completes his training and that one day soon, he would love the opportunity to sit next to Bilger in a performance with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

“At the university, I hope that you are well enough to sit and play with him.”

Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter via @perrych

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